'D-Day': Leaked Plan Reveals What Britain Will Do When Queen Elizabeth II Dies
14:17 GMT 03.09.2021 (Updated: 15:15 GMT 28.05.2023)
Her Majesty the Queen, 95, is believed to be in good health and is at present holidaying in Balmoral, her beloved Scottish estate. In April, the monarch lost her closest ally - her husband of more than 70 years, Prince Philip.
An updated version of the Queen’s death plan, that will include a call to the prime minister, a “spontaneous” service at St Paul’s and a speech by Prince Charles, has now been leaked to the media.
The so-called ‘Operation London Bridge’, which specifies a procedure around the Queen Elizabeth’s death, has been in readiness since the Sixties when the Queen had already been on the throne for about a decade. However, it has recently been updated by the Cabinet Office to take the COVID-19 pandemic into account, according to POLITICO.
The detailed plans reveal that the British prime minister will be the first person outside Buckingham Palace to be told the news about the Queen’s death from the monarch’s Private Secretary. A “call cascade” would then pass on the sad news to the Cabinet Secretary, the Privy Council, most senior ministers and other high-ranking officials.
It’s not clear whether a legendary "London Bridge is down" phrase will be used by officials to communicate the monarch's death.
After that, Buckingham Palace will issue an “official notification” to the world through a public broadcaster or possibly the Press Association.
It was reported that ministers will all receive a similarly worded message from departmental permanent secretaries saying: “We have just been informed of the death of Her Majesty The Queen. Discretion is required."
Senior civil servants and ministers will also reportedly get an email from the Cabinet Secretary with the following statement: “Dear colleagues, It is with sadness that I write to inform you of the death of Her Majesty The Queen.”
After receiving this message, flags across Whitehall are expected to be lowered to half-mast within 10 minutes to avoid a wave of “public anger”, the leak suggests.
Other events on the day when the monarch dies - referred to as ‘D-Day’ – will include a statement from the Prime Minister, gun salutes from the Ministry of Defence, a national minute of silence and a service at St Paul’s Cathedral, which although planned needs to appear “spontaneous”, the agenda apparently dictates.
Meanwhile, to adjust to the age of internet, the updated plan says that the royal family’s website will have to go black only with a short statement confirming the monarch’s demise.
Official Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts are also expected to turn black, with non-urgent posts paused.
Prince Charles will be expected to deliver a broadcast to the nation at 6pm. He will be proclaimed King by the Accession Council the next day.
According to the plan, which refers to the following days as “D+1”, "D+2" etc, the Queen’s body will be carried back to Buckingham Palace from wherever she dies on Day Two. The coffin will then be taken to the Palace of Westminster on Day Five where it will lie in state and the public will be able to pay their respects, the hall being open for 23 hours a day.
The Queen’s son Charles is then set to go on a tour across the UK on Day Three, that will start in in Scotland.
After the state funeral at Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth II will be buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle 10 days after her death. Her resting place will be next to her husband Prince Philip, who died in April 2021.
Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on the leaked plan, but it is believed that the Queen is at present in good health.